Can the Eagles catch the Cowboys and win the NFC East?

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  • Dallas Cowboys
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  • Las Vegas Raiders
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Can the Eagles catch the Cowboys and win the NFC East? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Is it safe to start daydreaming about the Eagles winning the division?

After watching the Cowboys allow 509 yards to the Raiders and lose for the third time in 19 days, it just might be.

Seven weeks into the season, the Eagles were 2-5 and the Cowboys were 6-1, and the NFC East title was the last thing on anybody’s mind in Philadelphia.

But things have changed. A lot.

The Eagles have won three of their last four, the Cowboys have lost three of their last four, and the NFC East has tightened up a whole lot.

As we sit here with six weeks left in the regular season, the Cowboys’ lead on the second-place Eagles in the division has dwindled to two games. The Cowboys do have a head-to-head win from back in September, but there is a rematch looming on Jan. 9 at the Linc, so who knows?

But however you look at it, the Eagles are hot, the Cowboys are not, and with each passing week the Eagles are gaining confidence, the Cowboys are stumbling and the playoff race is getting more and more intriguing.

It’s still a longshot, but it’s not impossible.

Remaining schedules:

Eagles (5-6)

  • At Giants (3-7)

  • At Jets (2-8)

  • Bye

  • Washington (4-6)

  • Giants (3-7)

  • At Washington (4-6)

  • Cowboys (7-4)

Cowboys (7-4)

  • At Saints (5-6)

  • At Washington (4-6)

  • At Giants (3-7)

  • Washington (4-6)

  • Cards (9-2)

  • At Eagles (5-6)

According to FiveThirtyEight's projections*, the Cowboys’ odds to win the NFC East dropped from 77 percent before the Raiders loss Thursday to 65 percent now, with the Eagles at 18 percent, Washington at 16 percent and the Giants at 1 percent.

If the Eagles win Sunday, their NFC East odds increase from 18 percent to 26 percent. If the Eagles also beat the Jets next weekend and the Cowboys lose to the Saints in New Orleans? Now we’re talking.

In that scenario, the Cowboys' division odds drop to 42 percent. The Eagles’ odds if they win their next two and Dallas loses to the Saints would range from 33 percent (if Washington beats the Seahawks and Raiders) to 48 percent (if Washington loses both).

Washington has a huge say in all this, since four of their last seven games are against the Eagles and Cowboys (they also face the Seahawks, Raiders and Giants).

Obviously, the Eagles’ wild-card chances are much higher.

Right now, FiveThirtyEight has the Eagles with a 43 percent overall chance to reach the playoffs, broken down to 25 percent as a wild card and 18 percent as a division winner.

With three wild cards this year, the Rams lead all NFC wild-card hopefuls at 77 percent, followed by the 49ers (52 percent), Vikings (51 percent). Those three non-division leaders are currently heavy favorites to earn the three wild cards.

The Eagles lead the chase pack with a 25 percent chance at a wild-card berth, followed by the Saints (17 percent), Washington (16 percent), Panthers (10 percent), Seahawks (5 percent), Falcons (3 percent), Giants (2 percent) and Bears (1 percent).

But here’s an interesting twist: The Vikings and 49ers play this weekend in Santa Clara, so if the Eagles beat the Giants they’ll gain on somebody.

If the Eagles and 49ers win, the Eagles’ wild-card odds improve to 32 percent and the Vikings fall to 37 percent. If the Eagles and Vikings win, the Eagles’ wild-card odds improve to 33 percent but the 49ers drop to 25 percent. 

If the Eagles win? No matter what else happens, their odds to reach the postseason will improve to 54 percent at worst.

Considering where they were a month ago? That’s pretty amazing.

*FiveThirtyEight assigns each team a percentage to make the playoffs as either a division winner or wild-card team based on 50,000 computer simulations of every game.

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